Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Atheist ....

By Tony Harriman

Seems to me that an Atheist is not born. An Atheist is caused ... or made (created, if you don't mind putting those two words in the same sentence). People might for a long while be indifferent toward the existence of God, mainly because they have no proof, or because they simply have no reason to believe in someone they can't capture with the senses.  The idea of a Creator doesn't just simply occur to a person; the seed has to be sown by an entity outside of themselves.  

Most of us will give God the benefit of the doubt, and give Him the credit for the beautiful things on the planet and beyond. But a large number of earthlings (Atheists included) just don't understand why a Being with such incredible power as to breathe suns and galaxies into life wouldn't clothe and feed a cold and hungry child. Why would such a Being be more interested in how humans eat, drink and make merry, than in the welfare of the many intimidated innocents on the planet? The witness of the atrocities of evil and the selfishness of Man is no inspiration to any human being with an ounce of compassion.

Philosophers and religionists alike have offered scores of ideas for why the world as we know it continues the way it does. All of these ideas CANNOT be right, nor may they all be necessarily wrong. And most honest-hearted people will at least listen to an idea, hoping to find some consolation—at least for a while, anyway.

But there inevitably comes a time when grief, heartache, and sometimes even shame or pain, show up on the doorstep of each one of us. And that is the moment that truth is revealed. Will a person cling to an idea they've held on to for a while but cannot prove? Or will the person weigh anchor and drift off to another, maybe better, idea? Of course, that's very personal and totally subjective. In other words: you'll have to wait and see, and maybe not for long.

I feel that there should be different classifications of Atheists, and maybe there already are, and I'm just not aware of them. Maybe the category of Intelligent Design (ID) would be a good place for some people to moor their boat. ID people might be happy to give credit to a creator, but not to a deity who makes claims on our time and energies.  Not a God, but a Power, has been responsible for all that exists.

Recently I was blessed to have been listening to a series of lectures by a microbiologist and geneticist who is also a Christian. And I have to be honest, while listening I had all my shields up and filters in place as this man spoke of the incredible complexity in nature as viewed through the Theory of Evolution. And honestly, I'm not sure I can tell you what this speaker truly believes about the seeming millions of years of "evidence" in the rocks of earth. But this scientist's appreciation for a Being who has such creative capacity was really refreshing.

There's probably a large place for "adaptation" in the study of organisms on the planet; truly, it would probably be very difficult to study medicine without embracing the idea that germs and viruses "change," often in a very short space of time. But I am not a believer in what is known as Evolution Theory and the idea that life on this planet started as a very simple electrically-charged cell and went on to become multiple beings with the capacity to be aware of their surroundings, or that discovered and developed the capability to calculate vast distances across the cosmos. I am not a person of great faith, and the idea of such a fantastic metamorphosis is too great of a leap for me. My apologies to my friends who understand the concept far better than I do.

I have my own set of frustrations regarding the Heavenly realms and their interaction with Planet Earth, as I'm sure you do. But I once lived life without a knowledge of a beneficent Being in my consciousness, and I would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to step back into that cold, dark existence. I've had my own losses and heartaches; some really hard to stomach. But the experiences have not caused me to look down—only up. Those of you who know me a little bit will readily acknowledge that there are more questions floating about between my ears than there are answers. This life is a puzzle to me. Questions regarding why God would do things this way in the first place, and then leave Himself to sort it out are a mystery to me.

But I really don't feel like I have to have answers before I can believe. Belief doesn't work that way. Belief that has to be pasted on is not belief at all. If you believe it, you believe it—and that's that. Your belief may change over time. But a person doesn't wake up one morning and tell his or herself to believe a certain way. Beliefs become more refined, or more fuzzy, depending upon "education" — education in the sense of the things you learn about a subject.

An Atheist has learned things that have not led the mind toward Heavenly things. But there is no need for the believer to "fear" the Atheist and his or her views. Certainly God is not affected by people who don't believe in Him. If you have concerns about the Atheist, the concern might not really be about the views of the Atheist; the concern might actually be with the fragility of your own views, and what you truly believe -- or think you believe.

The Atheist is on a similar path to that of the believer in Heavenly things.  Science, and its method for proving that things exist and have a meaningful function, is unable to prove or disprove that God exists, so the Atheist must put his or her trust in a theory that is inherently shaky at best.  The belief that God doesn't exist is as surely a product of faith as is the belief that He does exist.

Bottom line: there are many things we know very little about. But we don't have long to wait before we DO know what is, and also what ain't. In the meantime, if you feel God should be doing a better job of caring for the beings of the planet, maybe you could help Him out for a while. Maybe He'll get the idea once he sees what you're about.

And that's just my take on it ....

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Ignorance" and "Want"

By Tony Harriman

"A Christmas Carol" has to be one of the best surviving allegories on the market today. So many lessons to draw from the characters.

"Ignorance" is one of the creatures below the robe of Dickens' character, "The Ghost of Christmas Present" — the creature to beware of most — alongside another creature: "Want."

This is just a small observation, but I have seen that the study of the Sciences and the study of Religion have been two separate fields of interest mainly because of the ignorance of each toward the other. I have learned that many scientific minds are NOT engaged in a war to keep God hidden and banished from the text books. Many of those scientific minds are simply seeking to reconcile what they believe with what they see.

A human mind that can comprehend the vastness of the Cosmos, and perhaps can see the fingerprints of a Grand Designer, has a very difficult time confining his God to a box in which only one language is spoken; only one kind of people is accepted; and Who only shows up when called upon, like a genie who jumps out of the bottle when it's rubbed.

If it could be true that scientists are not looking for God, then it is more true to say that religionists are not looking to understand the science of the world in which they live. For the religionist, too much in the scientific world smacks of witchcraft or sorcery. This is part of the reason Jesus was accused of casting out demons through the power of the master of demons. Jesus worked outside of established understanding. He didn't perform miracles through witchcraft or sorcery or any other kind of Hocus Pocus; He used the same power which was evidently available to human beings—because His followers went out and did EXACTLY the same things when He commanded them to do so.

Ignorance of ANYTHING causes the mind to care very little about the thing. Think of that in terms of medical science, astronomy, geology, and perhaps most of all: Ecology. The less we know about these things, the less we seem to want to know, and the less we care. But these things matter. These things urge us toward the answers to the questions we ask most: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?

The world right now is full of stocking-stuffing attention-getters that are well equipped to divert us from finding out about things that matter. The medical world continues to frame knowledge of its findings in language foreign to the average mind. Math and physics are still frequently taught by teachers looking down their noses at their pupils. Biology and all of its siblings are ever-so-gently being pushed off the list of things to study that matter. Language sciences and poetry have been hijacked almost totally by a bizarre gaggle of songwriters who want to tell us how much they want to love their Mister or Miss Right Now. The average mind doesn't have time, space or interest to devote to things in a foreign language, so usually dwells on the mundane, or commonplace.

Planet Earth is a mess right now, held in a strange stranglehold that is taking up our entire attention. Most of the planet's inhabitants have no clue where their next meal is coming from. A smaller group lives from paycheck to paycheck, while another, much smaller group, DECIDES who gets to eat and who doesn't.

More than once I've been told, "Look, Jesus didn't have running water to His house; He didn't have indoor plumbing in any sense. And electricity? Forget about it."

It's true, the people in Jesus' day didn't have those things—and much more. But look at what was done by the followers of Jesus for the progress of mankind AFTER Jesus left. For 4,000 years the people of earth had lived in ignorance of so many things. That ignorance caused humanity to give credence to the likes of witch doctors, astrologers and alchemists. It took a while, but all that and more changed when the Spirit of Jesus got into a person.

It didn't take long, though, and humanity was once again baptized and held under the water by the Dark-Age religious folk. These folk went on a quest to burn the witches and convert the heathen—or kill the heathen in the process.

An ignorance of the Christian Bible kept priests and popes safely and warmly tucked in their beds for centuries. But then came Christian Protestantism, a movement more suited to study and inquiry of the world outside the Church Confessional. At last! The believer in God was encouraged to study the works of God. Protestants translated the Bible from the dead Latin language into languages that people actually spoke (modern-day medicine men and women could take a cue from that observation), and gave the average person a window into the thing that mattered most—instruction from Heaven itself! The average mind learned from those translations of the Bible that Jesus drew many lessons from the Book of Nature, and that the ways of God and of Heaven could be understood as the seeker after God studied the things which were being continually opened to his or her senses. Man developed microscopes, telescopes, and machines to calculate huge portions of mathematical data—data which is not intimidating or mysterious to the One Who created it.

Bottom line:

If you honestly believe it matters—whatever it is—help us understand it. Our ignorance of that which is really simple is not helping anything. Because "What the world needs now is love, sweet love" of things that matter, and that tend toward making things better.

Recently I returned from a trip to Cuba with somewhat of a heavy heart for the people who were forced to live in what we in the Western World would call "substandard conditions." They endured restricted access to fresh, running water; clean public toilets; hand soap, and the like. I have shared my burden for the Cuban people from time to time, and have been disappointed on occasion to meet the ever-present self-righteous prig who can't help but counter my observations with another: "So what? Most of the world lives like this." These prigs are easy to identify; they say things you might never expect to hear from the mouth of Jesus. If you can imagine Jesus avoiding town, uttering the words, "So what? Everyone gets sick, hungry and has demons," then you will be very comfortable in the company of the prig.

The world understands "Want." "Want" causes the belly to growl, the shoulders to shiver. But "Ignorance," on the other hand, is crafty. We really don't know what we don't know—ignorance of heat will cause many of us to sit in the cold. But some people DO know, and we just wish you'd put what you know into a language we can understand. We don't need or WANT to know everything, but we DO want to know about things that matter. Things like how to take better care of ourselves, and how to better take care of the world we live in. We're not asking much.

Once again, though, history is held in chains by the religious folk who are out there shouting, "My god is greater than your god. My god helps my football team more than your team. My god helps my business more than yours. And, of course, "My god helps me make better bombs than yours." These religious folk come in all shapes and sizes. And many of them speak English.

Humanity is tired of ignorance. And we're tired of being held in the past as we mop up religious mess after mess across the face of the earth.

What's the answer? Teach us about things that matter, and perhaps we'll finally have the opportunity to get our heads out of our own noses.

We're due—totally!

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